Is chess a waste of time? From my own experience

Playing chess can be a huge waste of time if it distracts you from achieving other important things in your life. There are people though who genuinely enjoy the game and it relieves their stress from their personal struggles, chess is not a waste of time if this is the case.

There are some discussions in online forums that have caught my attention lately, which is the stigma of chess being branded as a waste of time. This is pretty interesting to me since I have been playing this game for years.

And I would actually agree, chess can be a waste of time under the right circumstances and I care about the readers of this site enough that I have to share what I think. This will surely be a fruitful article.

I am not like some other passionate chess player that you have met online that would just praise this game to no end. I am quite realistic, I actually want to know if something is detrimental or not, and I will express my experience here.

Hope it is of some help to you. With all of that in mind, let’s begin.

Studying chess can be time extensive due to complication

If you are looking to master chess there is a huge learning curve to clear, it is not something that you do for a day or two in order to be properly completed. You have to study it continuously.

This is part of the problem, the amount of investment (in time) needed to learn the game is so much that some people think it is not worth it. There are arguments that you could have done better things with your time.

Some people declare chess as an activity that wastes people’s time since studying it requires an extraneous amount of time commitment that could have been used elsewhere. This is a good point that I want to address.

And my answer is basically yes, there are many situations where studying chess continuously is just a waste of time, time that you could have spent being productive. That is if you are going to commit to studying in the first place.

I personally have a lot of experience playing chess and I rarely study the game, even still, I have become pretty good by playing consistently. My peak lichess rating is 2000 and my peak rating is 1600. 

Now I definitely would be a better chess player if I do a serious studying routine, however, I spend the majority of my time managing this website and doing my homework (since I am still studying).

Chess can be a waste of time if you make it that way, however it can be just any other game that can bring you entertainment if you do not fall into the endless commitment trap.

Stress in chess is not worth it

Chess can be stressful, some people keep on playing even if they are getting negative consequences from further participating. In cases like this, chess is truly a waste of time.

I am sure that I am not alone with this, there are many cases where we already have enough stress from our outside obligations and chess adds fuel to the fire.

This is because chess is a game that can make you feel like a clown if you are constantly losing but can make you great if you are winning. However when we are already tired before playing we are very likely to suffer from a losing streak.

This losing streak inevitably causes us more stress and creates a negative feedback loop where we are constantly losing and being stressed about it, yet being stressed more and causing more defeats.

Indeed, chess can be a waste of time in this scenario if it weren’t for the fact that you can take a break, you don’t have to continuously play even if you are so stressed about the game. There is a degree of moderation to this and you have to find it.

Chess is a waste if you are not trying to be a professional

You can argue that studying chess is a waste of time if you are not trying to pursue it professionally. If you are just a hobbyist, there is no point in studying so much that you ignore other things in your life.

As I have stated above there is nothing stopping you from playing and just learning with experience, you may not reach your full potential but you can still be very good.

Chess is just so complicated, you can study for months and even years and there is still many resources to cover. If you are not planning to use the knowledge that you have acquired competitively then what is the point?

Sure you might become a strong chess player but it’s not like you’re getting any money nor recognition for your abilities. I say studying is definitely fine if you can afford it (you have the time) but be aware that it can also be a pit.

Do not ignore your actual life for chess, it can be a good hobby if it does not influence your personal life in any negative way. If it does then it might just be a waste of time.

Chess is not a waste if you want to pursue it professionally

What if we have the opposite scenario of the one stated above? What if we are serious in trying to enter competitive chess, is it still a waste of time then?

Of course not, if you are trying to be a professional it may not be a waste of time for you. It doesn’t mean that you are going to be successful, it just means that you are willing to put in the extra work in getting better.

Chess is a brutal career and there is a very small margin for success (since it is not exactly a monetizable game) but if you think that you have the talent and you want to give it a shot then you do you.

Studying chess might not be a waste of time for you if you are that serious to improve, obviously you need to be at the best of your game if you want to do it and further commitment is necessary.

Chess, Luxury, and why is it a waste of time

Chess can be a waste for some people since it doesn’t promise a lot of monetary return, competitive chess players actually struggle with money since tournament winnings are not enough to support themselves (not all, but most of them).

Imagine if competitive chess has the same traction as competitive basketball, it will be difficult to break into the industry but at least every opportunity is worth it. Not everyone will make it but I don’t think it would be a waste of time at that point.

But sadly this is not the case, you are going to be investing a lot of time in becoming better only to be disappointed in your potential earnings. It would be different if this can be a full-time income.

However for most people it is just a waste of time because there is nothing in return, at least not something that can support you financially. 

Again, that will only apply if you are trying to be serious about this. If you just want to play a game or two after a hard day at work in order to improve your day then I wouldn’t exactly call it a waste of time.

My personal opinion about the usefulness of chess

As a chess player myself, I actually agree that the game can be addicting and it distracts you from being productive throughout the day. This is true in anything that is entertaining.

When something is just that good in keeping you on the hook, it can be very addicting and can negatively affect the things you try to pursue in life. 

This is the negative of something too entertaining, it can really be a massive time waster if not kept in check. 

Chess in my own personal life is so good at keeping me excited that it affects my publishing schedule on this blog (which is a platform that earns me capital). This is not an example of the so-called negative consequences.

But can you really blame chess for this? That it is just so addicting that its players get distracted from other more important things? I also think that the lack of discipline is a bigger issue and should be addressed rather than just blaming chess entirely.

Moderation in chess makes it beneficial

I still say that chess is not a waste of time if you are not just a zombie that plays the game every day mindlessly. There is a certain level of moderation that counters any addiction.

What I mean is just having a decent level of discipline that we need to tackle other things in life anyway, knowing when to stop when the influence of chess becomes negative.

This is an easy solution to the problem if you think chess is wasting too much of your time, and to be honest, it is not that hard. Youtube for example is a giant time waster and I am sure that you must have found some way to neutralize it (maybe).

But does it mean that you should just hate youtube entirely? Of course not, the negatives would not outweigh the benefits especially if the negatives can easily be nullified by basic discipline.

Chess can be beneficial to those who play it

Chess can be beneficial depending on how you use it, the benefits are not a waste of time if you have the discipline (you play the game in moderation).

If you want to find a list of every benefit that you can possibly get by playing chess then my other article will accommodate you (link will open in a new tab). But fundamentally, if we just ignore the scientific benefits, it is just entertaining.

You know that time where you are just so gassed out from work and you don’t have any friends to hang around in a pinch, you just want to be entertained and might even boost your confidence if you can win.

Even that simple is already a benefit, if you genuinely feel happy by playing chess and are just wondering if it is wasting too much of your time then don’t be afraid, it will only be a waste of time if you let it be that way (just have discipline people!).

Personal preference on chess being a waste of time

Chess is truly a wonderful game, it really is in the eye of the beholder. If you are not into basketball, badminton, etc. all these sports will be a waste of time for you. If you’re not into chess then you may consider it as a waste of time.

I wouldn’t say that chess is a complete waste of time. After all, there are many life lessons you can get from chess that are applicable in real life.

Maybe chess is not a waste of time altogether and is just a waste of time to you since you are not really into the game. If you don’t find any excitement playing it then it is clear why you think this way.

Don’t get me wrong it is perfectly fine to not like chess since we all have our personal preferences, but just understand that there are those who are passionate about this since they just like the game inside and out.

Its usefulness to you will depend on how much you are entertained while participating in the said game, it may just be a waste of time for your specific case since you don’t enjoy playing it.

But there are others who find enjoyment in chess and you can’t exactly say that they are just wasting their time if they are having fun playing it.

Chess does not have to be a waste of time

Depending on your life priorities and how much you play, chess can actually be pretty enjoyable. There are cases where it is detrimental, but there are also cases where it is not.

The bottom line really is whether you are having fun playing it? We all have those niche things that make our life exciting that others may find weird since it doesn’t apply to them.

This might be the case in this entire discussion, others might just find it weird that people are spending so much time on this hobby for so little in return. But that is only from their perspective since they don’t really personally enjoy playing.

Because what really makes life worth living? Is it not pursuing things that you genuinely like and finding purpose in them? It might be a waste of time monetary-wise sure, but is it all about the money?

If chess can make you enjoy the life you have on earth then is it really a waste of time? I don’t think so since that is the very purpose of existence, to enjoy as many things as we can while we have our time in this world.

Final thoughts

There are many pursuits/preferences that others have that we find weird since we don’t personally enjoy them. We normally ask questions like “why do they do this, or like that?” but just remember that everybody is unique and has their own brain.

What applies to you may not apply to everyone else and vice versa, and I think this is what’s happening in these kinds of questions. 

Do not get me wrong this is a sensible question and should be thrown out there, but the answer is, it just depends. It just depends on your level of engagement and how it affects you personally.

It can be a waste of time for some individuals and not for others, I think this just summarizes this entire article. I hope you have enjoyed reading this little discussion of mine, sleep well and play chess.